Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Master of Health Information Science


Health Information Science


Burkell, Jacquelyn

2nd Supervisor

Befus, Deanna


Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) are nonprofit, non-medical facilities that advise pregnant women against abortion. This project analyzes the visual and verbal strategies that CPCs employ in their website communications that are directed at the general public, and how these strategies vary between three diverse locations. Using a conventional content analysis and a critical feminist and intersectional framework, this study examines three websites of CPCs in Ontario to understand how they attract clients. An analysis of the data shows that the CPCs are religiously affiliated, that they appeal not only to women but also to students, men, and in some cases, newcomers to Canada, and how they are doing so. The results also show that CPCs associate abortion with negative mental health outcomes. These results are important for health policy as they highlight policy loopholes that allow CPCs to disseminate harmful and deceptive health information.

Summary for Lay Audience

Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) are nonprofit, non-medical facilities that advise pregnant women against abortion. In addition to services such as pregnancy tests and adoption referrals, CPCs frequently offer material supports such as maternity clothing, feeding bottles, and diapers. Though they do not employ healthcare professionals, CPCs position themselves as clinics to appeal to women seeking medical help, with the goal of postponing and ultimately dissuading them from terminating a pregnancy. CPC misinformation tactics not only jeopardize the health of women and their families, but create confusion, fear, and mistrust of legitimate health care options and providers. This study investigated the communication methods of three CPC websites in different areas of Ontario. The study purpose was to understand who CPCs were targeting, and what methods CPCs used to appeal to various clients. Further, the study intended to investigate whether the communication methods and information varied by location. Results of this study show that the CPCs are affiliated with churches or other religious organizations, that they use free services and material items to appeal to women, that the CPCs frequently mention “pregnancy options” or “choice” and that the CPCs discussed abortion most often in relation to grief and shame. Future studies should be conducted to better understand what tactics CPCs employ when clients enter into the facilities.